In the wake of the catastrophic first winter in Russia the Quartermaster-General of the Army was commanded to develop a winter combat uniform for the next winter campaign season. The uniform which resulted was tested in Finland, and in April 1942 approved. In winter 1942 the level of winter clothing issue was increased to include not only the new padded jacket and trousers but also a number of other protective items such as a matching insulated hood and over-mittens, the woollen toque headscarf, gloves (both woollen and fur-lined), etc. While the majority of troops of all branches of the Army received – over time – the basic uniform, it was not until winter 1943-44 that the padded uniform could really be seen as being “general issue”.
Figure set 6530 Self-Propelled Gun Crew, a 1/35 scale set of plastic injection mould figures, depicts four Wehrmacht self-propelled gun crew members wearing padded reversible winter suits loading ammunition. The set was released December 2008 with the box art by Ron Volstad.
All four figures wear the Wehrmacht padded, reversible winter suit which was first introduced in 1942, tubular woollen balaclavas pulled down around their necks, and woollen gloves. The padded, reversible winter suit was initially produced in a mouse-grey colour reversible to white. This was soon superseded (by early 1943) by an identical pattern in which the mouse-grey was replaced by printed camouflage patterns.
Figures 2 and 4 wear the leather reinforced felt boots, while the other two wear the short haft marching boot. While figure 2 wears a Feldmütze, the other three members of the crew wear the newer Einheitsfeldmütze. The officer wears a radio headset over his Einheitsfeldmütze, while at his waist is a holstered P38 pistol.
Four alternate heads are provided: one bare-headed sporting a 1940’s era hairstyle; one wearing a scarf over a Feldmütze; while the other two are crown-less for the fitment of another form of headgear (most likely a combat helmet, which is not supplied with the kit, given the chin strap running around the face of each head).
What’s in the Box
The kit, with main sprues moulded in Dragon Models Ltd’s traditional light grey coloured plastic, comes in a standard slip top cardboard box with the sprues sealed individually in plastic bags. As with most DML figure sets the assembly and painting guides are printed on the reverse of the box.
The kit consists of the following:Main sprue, in light grey styrene, containing the four (4) figures;
SPG ammunition (Gr.19 and Gr.19 Concrete Piercing rounds) sprue in light grey styrene;
Wicker ground mats sprue in ‘Dragon Styrene’ (DS);
Wicker ammunition tubes sprue in DS;
Generic German winter head-set in DS; and
Photo-etched fret for commander’s radio head-set.
Each figure consists of seven (7) basic parts – figure 2 being the exception and consisting of six (6) parts. Each figure is made up with: head; headgear (excluding figure 2); torso; right and left arms; right and left legs. In addition to these basic parts, accessories such as the commander’s P38 pistol holster, radio head-set, a Jerry fuel can (it should be noted that the Jerry can does not feature the centre spine) and four (4) rounds of ammunition are included on the main sprue. A seventh arm is included (numbered part C11) however no indication is given as to suggested use.
Generally speaking the figures are well sculpted for plastic injection mould figures. The faces are well sculpted and defined, as are the headgear items, although the limitations of plastic injection moulding do soften the features slightly. The figures proper are well detailed and one gets a very good idea of the fit of the padded winter suits. Folds gather realistically for the materials portrayed. The finer details such as buckles and buttons, although present, do appear softer due to the medium presented in.
Overall the casting is above average, with only light casting lines and flash. Casting lines and flash are not excessive, and are mostly present on the legs and arms – the hands in particular. In addition to the casting lines and flash, the hands so also appear “soft” in places, and the casting fails to carry the textured woollen detail of the gloves with scribing required between some fingers.
As noted above four (4) alternate heads, cast in DS, are supplied with the kit. This appears to be a generic head-set, and although labelled “German Head II”, with the exception of head B4, there is nothing in particularly German about the heads and they could most certainly be used with a host of other figures. The heads are excellently sculpted, full of detail which is very well held by the DS. If I do have one criticism it is that the necks are slightly too thin, as is evidenced by the built figure.
The remaining plastic sprues are the two DS sprues of the wicker ground mats and cases, and the Gr.19 ammunition sprue. The two DS sprues are once again generic sprues which have been supplied in several kits. The Gr.19 ammunition sprue is sprue G from DML’s “German sFH 18 Howitzer w/Limber” (kit 6392), and contains five rounds each of Gr.19 and Gr.19 Concrete Piercing ammunition.
For purposes of this review, I elected to assemble two (2) of the figures from the set: I chose to assemble figures 1 and 4.
Assembling figure 1 first, I began by joining the two lefts together. Dry-fitting the two pieces revealed that the parts did not mate correctly, leaving a wedged gap in the rear seat of the trousers/jacket skirt. While I attempted to adjust the parts, if I mated the rear (thus closing the gap) a gap to the front of the trousers opened. Filing the parts down to mate correctly would reduce the figure’s waist too much. Thus I chose what I perceive to be the lesser of the three evils: I chose to leave the gap to the rear, as this would be easier to fill that attempting to recreate the trouser front detail.
The next step was fitting the torso to the assembled legs. Out the box the torso does not mate correctly either, and small gaps were left around the waist. In retrospect it may have been prudent to file the two parts down for a better fit; however I wanted to confirm the “out the box” fit.
The arms, head, and field cap fitted perfectly, with only minor adjustments needed to position the raised left arm correctly so that the hand cupped the ammunition round properly. Note that while the legs and torso were glued into place, I have only fitted the other parts into place using poster-tack – this was does to facilitate clean-up and painting.
In assembling figure 4, I followed the same process as above. Sadly the figure exhibited the same problems in leg/torso assembly, albeit not as bad. Happily though, the arms fitted perfectly again. I decided to fit one of the alternate DS heads to this figure. While the head fits well (I did have to shorten the neck slightly) the neck appears too narrow when fitted. I would recommend modellers consider bulking up the necks when using these heads.
As I mentioned above, and as readers can see from the assembled figure pictures, there are some light casting seams mostly on the legs and arms. While I have not filled the above mentioned trouser seat and torso gaps, I did undertake to clean up the seam lines for the review. I use a curved edge blade as opposed to a straight edged blade for plastic figure clean-up as I find this “travels” over the folds much easier. This probably took me about ten minutes per figure.
Readers will note in the two photos showing the two cleaned up figures that I have also done some very light scribing of seam lines and run a knife blade under some of the pockets and raised edges for figure 1. Figure 4 (and the rest of the figure set) will receive similar treatment later.
Comments on Colour Schemes
According to sources, the pattern of the camouflage/white jacket was identical to that of the earlier mouse grey/white tunic, and the details on both reversible sides were duplicated. Therefore painters have four possible base schemes in which to paint these figures, namely: mouse-grey out/white in; white out/mouse-grey in; camouflage out/white in; and white out/camouflage out. And that is not to mention that examples of these garments printed in either “splinter”, “marsh” or “1944 marsh” patterns are not uncommon.
It is also worth mentioning that, although Ron Volstad depicts the reversible versions and that this is DML’s intent (hence my consistent referral to it as such throughout this review), not uncommon variations on these garments are the non-reversible variations. Essentially the same as the reversible versions, these were not reversible to white, but lined instead with grey rayon (artificial satin). Examples of these may be encountered in camouflage in both Splittermuster and Sumpfmuster patterns.
Not content to simply retool and reissue old scale model moulds DML introduced the Premium Edition, which not only includes the retooled kit, but usually a few extra plastic sprues and photoetch frets. One such kit, Dragon Models’ figure set 6530 Self-Propelled Gun Crew is essentially a retooled, reboxing of their older figure set by the same name, but different kit number, 6016 Self-Propelled Gun Crew. So what is the difference? In the case of 6530 Self-Propelled Gun Crew, included in the kit are a Dragon Styrene (DS) generic German head set, a DS sprue of wicker ground mats and charges, a DS sprue of wicker cases, a PE fret for the radio head-set, as well as a sprue featuring rounds of Gr.19 and Gr.19 Concrete Piercing rounds in DML’s standard plastic.
For figures which were sculpted in what I estimate to be the mid-1990’s these figures are still rather good by 2009 standards. The casting is above average for plastic injection mould figures, and while there are light casting seams on the limbs these should not take the average modeller long to remove. If there is one thing that really lets this kit down it is the fit of the legs and torso.
It is customary to assign a percentage value to reviews on Kitmaker, but I think it important to explain how I have come to this particular mark. I have assessed this kit in four areas I feel important: sculpting (which includes attention to detail); casting; fit; and subject (always an extremely subjective point). Thus I have assigned the following marks: sculpting – 90%; casting – 75%; fit – 65%; and subject – 90%. Thus the average score of 80%.
DML market this figure set as a Wehrmacht SPG crew loading or firing. Personally I think these figures, due to pose and garb, have a lot more potential than just these two scenarios.
The following material was consulted for purposes of this review, and is suggested reading for more information on the subject:“German Army Uniforms and Insignia 1933-1945”. Brian L. Davis. Military Book Society. 1973.
“German Army Uniforms of World War II in Color Photographs”. Wade Krawczyk. Motorbooks International. 2002.
“German Army Uniforms. Heer – 1933-1945”. Ricardo Recio Cardona & Antonio González Sánchez. EuroUniformes. 1997.
“The German Army 1939-45 (3) Eastern Front 1941-43”. Men-at-Arms 326.Nigel Thomas. Illustrated by Stephen Andrew. Osprey Publishing. 1999.
“The German Army 1939-45 (4) Eastern Front 1943-45”. Men-at-Arms 330.Nigel Thomas. Illustrated by Stephen Andrew. Osprey Publishing. 1999.